Rich Ivry, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, UC Berkeley

Monday, November 13, 2023 - 3:30pm to 4:45pm

Levin Auditorium

425 S. University Avenue

Title: Probing the Role of the Cerebellum in Sensorimotor Learning and Cognition

Host: Johannes Burge

Abstract:  An impressive body of research over the past 35 years has implicated the human cerebellum in a broad range of functions, including motor control, perception, language, working memory, cognitive control, and social cognition. The relatively uniform anatomy and physiology of the cerebellar cortex has given rise to the universal cerebellar transform hypothesis (UCT), the idea that the cerebellum can be conceptualized as a module providing a basic computation that is exploited across diverse domains. Proposed UCTs focus on the concepts of prediction and coordination.  To make these ideas computationally meaningful, we need to specify the constraints on cerebellar processing: What are the types of prediction supported by the cerebellum and what do we mean when speaking of “mental coordination”?  I will address these questions in two parts.  First, I will review experiments that employ variants of sensorimotor adaptation tasks to examine how processes associated with action selection and motor execution interact during sensorimotor adaptation. Using these methods, we find a dual deficit in individuals with cerebellar degeneration:  In addition to their well-described impairment in implicit adaptation, they also are impaired in implementing a strategy to facilitate learning.  In the second part of the talk, I will describe how the results have motivated a new hypothesis concerning how the cerebellum might contribute to cognition, focusing on its role in supporting dynamic mental transformations.

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Bio: Rich Ivry is a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley.   He directs the Cognition and Action lab, using various tools of cognitive neuroscience to explore human performance in healthy and neurologically impaired populations. Prof. Ivry has a long-standing interest in the cerebellum, seeking to understand the role of this subcortical structure in skilled movement, timing, and, through its interactions with the cerebral cortex, cognition.